Grooming transforms tracks after winds for Alaska writer laureate

Winter weather finally arrived in Fairbanks, but thanks to the elevation of the Birch Hill Recreation Area, temperatures today were roughly 20 degrees warmer than the official airport temperature hovering around -20 deg F. Unfortunately, Friday night winds in excess of 25 mph toppled leaves, twigs, and birch seed onto the trails, and the classical tracks as the lowest depression in the trail surface collected the most debris. Several of the SCUM (Sonot Kkaazoot organizers) had attempted to ski at Birch Hill on Saturday and commented that it was more like hiking on skis.

Once the winds had passed, the Birch Hill groomers started at 5:30 a.m. Sunday to drag out the tracks and reset them on almost all the trails. Sunday morning when we started at 11:00 a.m., the tracks were virtually 96% free of vegetative debris–an awesome improvement over Saturday. Below Jerome skis in the clean classical tracks while Kent overtakes him on the skate portion of the trail.

Kent & Jerome on White Bear

So as a reminder, grooming doesn’t just take place when we get new snow or when races are planned. Groomers reset tracks when Mother Nature soils them. Groomers make snow that they haul to downhill corners where skiers have worn down the snow by snowplowing. While you were still sleeping (or leisurely drinking that first cup of coffee) this morning, the grooming crew had already begun their magic. Fuel, equipment maintenance, and some salary support comes from your trail donations. Please consider giving or adding to your gift so that we can continue to have the best ski conditions in the Interior (and thanks to the crazy winter weather, probably in the entire state right now). Weren’t the clean tracks today (and the 20 deg F temperature inversion) worth the cost of a latte or a beer? Think about it. How much was today’s ski worth to you?

Here’s the link to make your donation:

Happy New Year!

On 29 January 2015, Frank Soos, a primordial SCUM (and Sonot Kkaazoot volunteer in charge of registration and bib distribution) will accept the Alaska State Writer Laureate award for 2015 and 2016 at a banquet in Juneau.

Therefore, during our first ski in 2015, the SCUM honored our first SCUM Laureate (kneeling in front with red boot covers and the black SCUM hat) with the SCUM ski pole salute.???????????????????????????????

At a Fairbanks Arts Association reading and reception held Saturday, 3 January at the Bear Gallery in his honor, Frank read the following piece that expresses well the importance that ski trails play in our lives beyond sports.

Congratulations, Frank!



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